Talking SHoP About Atlantic Yards

Location: How big are you guys now?

Mr. Pasquarelli: We’re 60-something people—a 65-person firm, which is a little smaller than we were a year ago, but we’ve been stable. We were probably 80 at the top.


What’s the breakdown of work? You’re a principal and you have four co-principals?

There are five partners in total: two husbands and wives, and then the identical twin brother of one of the husbands. So it’s a very unusual family tree and a very close-knit group. We all went to school together and have been friends for a very long time.


Do you split up design of projects?

No, it’s a lot more like a think tank where on every project, every partner is involved.


You guys are seen as one of the city’s more avant-garde firms, but at 60 people, you’re not a small boutique. How did you get to the point where you’re attracting the eye of some of these big developers that would normally be attracted to something more conservative?

I think we took a lot of advantage of emerging technologies and invested all of our research into emerging technologies to help us build these avant-garde buildings using techniques in construction that control the cost. … We can both do evocative design, and know how to put it together.


What’s the magic with keeping costs low?

The magic is in using the kind of techniques and methods of production as one of the parameters of design itself. So it’s not just to make a beautiful object and figure out how to build it. It’s have a kind of protoform, figure out how you’re going to build it, and use the constraints of the building technology to drive the form itself.


You’ve been brought into Atlantic Yards to design the Nets arena along with the firm Ellerbe Becket. How did you get involved?

We just got a call from Bruce [Ratner, the project’s developer] one day. I think Bruce said, ‘I’d like to come visit your office. I’ve talked to a lot of people around the city, and they told me you might be the firm that could figure out a great design and figure out something that could be built, and could do it really fast.’ And so he came over, and we had a great conversation, and that’s how it started.


What’s he like to deal with?

I like Bruce. He’s very intense. He’s very smart, and he’s dealing with a lot of things at one time, but I know his heart is really in making a fabulous design.


It’s kind of odd—they used to do these really boring designs, and then suddenly with the Times building—

—Suddenly it’s Renzo, Gehry, and SHoP.


Great company.

We’re honored to be even uttered in the same sentence.

Talking SHoP About Atlantic Yards